Brent Carter, Sr. Consultant and Executive Coach with Leadership Excelleration Inc., shares some surprising facts and helpful onboarding strategies for achieving success in a new role.
You’ve ﬁnally landed that new position! Now, you’re ready to assume your role. It’s exciting to think about the possibilities that lay ahead and to begin plotting out the changes you’re eager to implement. After all, you want to start racking up those quick wins!
Not so fast…
4 out of 10 promoted leaders fail in the ﬁrst 18 months!
Intuitively, experienced leaders know what they have to do to position themselves for success. They may have good intent but many lack the intentionality – a disciplined approach – for their onboarding. Many organizations support transitioning leaders through an onboarding process or a 90-day plan. While this can help the leader learn more about the organization, it typically just skims the surface of what the leader really needs to know.
Our experience in onboarding newly promoted or hired leaders has confirmed that onboarding itself is not enough. There are many “enemies” that hinder a leader’s success in a new role, despite the depth of the leader’s experience. Following are a few strategies that will conquer the enemies and help leaders achieve success in their new positions.
3 Strategies for Achieving Success Once Promoted
Get clarity. We’ve all heard – and used – the phrase, “it’s like drinking from a ﬁrehose.” And it is! When a leader takes on a new role, there’s so much coming at them. It can be overwhelming. While the leader may be tempted to suck it up and plow forward, focus is paramount.
Gaining clarity on expectations, priorities and quick wins – not only from the manager but also key stakeholders – is vital. This is not a one-time discussion but an ongoing dialogue. A mistake that many leaders make is having an initial priorities discussion with the manager and then charging down the path toward completion.
Priorities and expectations can change weekly – even daily. Set up regularly scheduled 1-1 meetings with the manager and team members and check in periodically with stakeholders to maintain clarity and agreement on what is most important. Everyone will find these discussions beneficial.
Ride the culture wave. Pay attention to this one. Of the leaders that struggle or fail in the first 18 months, 70% is due to poor cultural onboarding.
If a leader is promoted from within an organization, she probably has a good sense of the culture. But that could lead to a false sense of security. Fast growth, acquisitions, restructures and hiring new senior leaders can easily cause a shift in the culture. For leaders new to the organization, it is extremely important to take the time to learn the culture – both explicit and implicit aspects of how the organization operates.
New leaders should take time to notice the pace and personality of the organization, how people dress in different departments, the style and medium of communications, how decisions are made and who is involved, the flexibility of time at work, who shows up at meetings, etc. Drawing comparisons with their prior organization and role will help them better navigate the culture.
Build key relationships. Shocker, huh? While this is a given with every leader, it couldn’t be more critical for transitioning leaders. Due to the new role, many business relationships are also new. New manager. New peers. New team. New stakeholders. New clients/customers. And maybe, new organization. Leaders new to their role should immediately start identifying and forming these relationships. But instead of having their assistant schedule a slew of “meet and greets,” a more strategic approach would be beneficial.
Some good questions to ask:
- What business units do I support (or am I supported by)?
- Who needs to have a voice in our strategies and goals?
- In addition to my team, who will be vital contributors to our success?
- How can I partner with my peers to foster mutual support?
So, if you recently scored that new position, Congratulations! After you do a fist pump, remember to organize and prioritize so the proverbial fire hose doesn’t knock you down.
Learn more about these strategies in The Ascending Leader – Conquer the Seven Enemies of Success – A Strategic Guide for the Newly Promoted. If you need help with your onboarding efforts, Leadership Excelleration can provide the solution. They offer a variety of programs to meet your needs.